Press and the Flesh

By Mark David Blum, Esq.

It is a rare thing that I bring to your attention a pending case in which I am involved. I much prefer to let time and the courts do their thing before a matter is brought here for your consideration. However, that general rule must be broken when discussing the Fulton Valley News. Using the power of their editorials and without disclosing that the editorial author is himself a named defendant, the Fulton Valley News has taken to further yellowing its journalism by comparing the criminals of their chocolate factory to the former Oswego County Legislature Chairperson Russ Johnson. It is there in black and yellow in the June 28 edition.

The Publisher declares his newly coined social theory of how “the news media is the first refuge of less-than-honorable officials, whether in the public or private sector”. In doing so, this first presumes the Fulton Valley News is a credible and honorable “news” media outlet. Any Ed Harrington can call himself a reporter and media outlet and spend every moment of airtime or every inch of white space skewed and spewing with the personal vendetta of the author. Just because you are the “news media”, that does not give you sanctuary or social status above reproach. In fact, if you declare yourself “media” and assume the responsibility to report a story accurately, then failing to do so should be the subject of a civil action. After all, a duty and professional responsibility come with the territory.

Let us be clear: I am Russ Johnson’s attorney. I also represent Michael French. Both are former Oswego County Legislators in the crosshairs of a woman scorned. The woman, a reporter for the Fulton Valley News wanted her paramour given a perk position in the County Highway Department. When that was not going to happen, this self-declared ‘reporter’ went out and used the shield of her newspaper as a sword to slay anybody who got in her way. As a result, there is right now a civil case pending in Oswego County Supreme Court in which the reporter and the Fulton Valley News publishers are defendants.

Ronald Caravan, who has some kind of position of prominence at the Fulton Valley News and is a defendant in the above civil case, scrambled yesterday’s Editorial to link Messrs. Johnson and French with a criminal scandal happening half a world away. Again, accepting the premise the Valley News is media, Caravan states, “another common trait of people such as this who get caught before the public having behaved badly—they will typically cite their personal degradation as though it is some else’s fault, generally the news media’s for having the audacity to report the facts of the matter, and perhaps common on them.”(sic)

Using inflammatory language such as “dethroned” and “fall from grace”, the Defendant Caravan turns his full personal wrath against Mr. Johnson and accuses him of “political mischief” (whatever that is) and implies Mr. Johnson led an Administration full of lies. All this bluster and continuing battle because one reporter and her boyfriend.

Let us also remember that Messrs French and Johnson are now private citizens. No longer members of any government agency, for what reason does the Fulton Valley News use its editorial pages to link a criminal chocolate manufacturer in Ivory Coast with former Oswego County leaders. I guess by the same analogy, that would make Ronald Caravan the Joseph Goebbels of his day. Both misled the people, manufactured great lies to sway public opinion, and manipulated both the editorial and factual information being withheld by evildoers. Since Mr. Caravan nor his reporters never disclosed their hidden agenda behind the so-called Highway Superintendant scandal, then who are they to demand respect from anyone?

Frankly, I have seen the evidence and met with witnesses and compared that to the reporting of the Fulton Valley News on and around the last election. It is my considered opinion that Caravan’s bloviating remark on how, “Mr. Johnson’s own official mismanagement and political mischief were fully sourced and abundantly documented” is a bald faced flat out lie. I am convinced that when and if the day should come that a jury of his peers gets to compare the two, Caravan and crew will be issuing many mea culpa. Of course, they are going to spend all they have and try to avoid facing a jury. Nothing scares them more.

Until then, I will not stand by quietly while my client is publicly abused in editorial space by a man using his newspaper to cover up for the affair and nepotism demanded by one of his reporters. If Mr. Caravan wants to drag the public into his personal life, so be it. Mr. Caravan has just put it all on the line.

For the record however, neither Mister Johnson nor Mister French “blame the media” for the change in government in the last election. Each has their own issues and constituency. Instead, Caravan, Caravan, and Thompson are solely to blame for abusing their positions of social trust to advance their own hidden agenda.

"Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle." (Thomas Jefferson).

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